The Valley Drive-In has flooded for the second time this winter but will forge ahead with renovation plans with added measures to prevent later flooding from impacting the project.
Valley Drive-In co-chairman and Coldbrook and District Lions Club member Kirk Longmire says despite having a proactive water pumping plan in place the morning of Feb. 16, water began flooding at a rate far too quick for the club’s pumps to keep pace.
“It was like a torrent of water. We’d been pumping proactively even though very little flooding was happening, but at 5 p.m. the water just kept coming with no reprieve,” says Longmire.
Longmire says the club’s plans for a major renovation of the drive-in’s canteen space and projection room will continue, but the major issue now is how to keep renovation work safe from future flooding.
Its renovations had been slated to start next week.
The club is now overseeing the digging of trenches to subvert water away from the site’s buildings – all of which is intended as a short-term solution, says Longmire – until a long-term solution is put in place this summer.
“The challenge now is how do you fix something if you have more flooding? We can’t start repairing anything until that water stops, and it’s safe to assume April showers won’t be good either. So, this should at least prevent future flooding from reaching the building,” says Longmire.
Waterville and District Volunteer Fire Department Chief Wayne Johnstone says when his volunteers arrived to assist with pumping out the water at about 5 p.m. on Feb. 16, they found water “as deep as a couple feet in some places” at the scene.
He says many agreed this round of flooding was “even worse” than the flooding in January.
“The rain was just happening too fast, so we continued to drain it down for them,” he says.
The club’s renovation plans, which will see the canteen’s interior completely remodelled and the projection room rebuilt, also include a sub-pump and well so water can drain inside the buildings.
Longmire says this and the site’s aging drainage system – which he confirms was to be renovated this summer even before the January flood – are why damage from the January flood created a lake at the site that was so extensive.
He says renovating had been on the club’s agenda for a few years, but as a non-profit club, it was reluctant to fund such things over supporting local causes.
“We’ve known we needed renos for a long time, but we put them off – it always made more sense to help with someone’s gas bill, or something else, instead – but this has forced us to say ‘listen, this is now the time,’” says Longmire.
“We cannot continue to operate unless we fix these problems.”
The service club will pay for the canteen renovation and repairs to the facility’s projection room, which was also ruined. The project is not being financed through insurance.
The Municipality of the County of Kings owns the property and will fund repairs to the drainage system, road fixes and will replace ruined electrical systems.
Longmire says the drive-in is still slated to open in May, and says despite two floods, he remains excited for people to see the site once renovations are completed.
“The outside [of the canteen] will look the same, but the inside will be totally upgraded with new cabinetry and a new layout,” he says.
“It’s a shame these floods happened, but this will be a real face-lift for our drive-in.”
The community has also expressed happiness that the business plans to open on its regular May weekend.
Drive-in regular and Dartmouth resident Amy Francis says when she heard about the renovations, she felt relief the facility would be up and running again.
“The most enjoyable thing about the Drive-in is the nostalgia of times gone by and the comfort of watching a movie on the big screen in your own vehicle. You can adjust the volume however loud or quiet you want it. And those canteen prices can’t be beat,” she says.
Leah Rissesco of Vaughan says she too was glad to hear of the news because it’s an experience she enjoys with her family.
“Our favourite part of the whole experience is being able to comment on the movies without disturbing others. The kids like being able to run around until the movie starts. The renos are really exciting – a freshen up so to speak,” she says.
For more information on the upcoming season, visit the Valley Drive-In website at https://www.valleydrivein.com/.